D Is For Demisexual

D Is For Demisexual

Explaining demisexuality and related identities to a society that just doesn't get us yet.

You may have never heard of demisexuality, and I wouldn't blame you. It's not a well-known sexuality, and it's not talked about as much as other sexualities might be. In fact, many of the sexualities underneath the asexual umbrella are largely not discussed and frequently misunderstood. Though I've written about demisexuality before, I want to clarify what it is and what it can mean. This is my understanding of the label, and it in no way represents what it means for all demisexuals. I use "we" in a way to mean myself and other demisexuals that have a similar understanding and expression of this identity. Something fantastic about human sexuality is that it is expressed uniquely depending on the person's personality and life experiences. It makes for a diverse scale. However, these are some of the key traits and points that I think help in understanding demisexuality as a whole.

1. "Demisexual" literally means "half sexual."

"Demi" is a prefix meaning half. For example, you may have heard of a "demigod." This alone explains some of the traits and foundation of the sexuality. Demisexual is halfway between sexual and asexual. It is, however, considered to be on the asexual scale. This may be because the sexual scale inherently excludes demisexuality. Because demisexuals are by nature not "fully sexual," they are placed under the asexual category. There's another umbrella term that I prefer, which is gray-ace or gray-a. Demisexual does not indicate a certain gender preference. One can be demiheterosexual, demihomosexual, demibisexual, etc.

2. Typically, demisexuality is characterized by a lack of primary attraction.

By "lack," I don't mean to imply that we are lacking something as humans and there's something amiss with us, more that we simply do not possess something considered "normal," but that's OK! In the current understanding of human sexual attraction, there is a primary attraction and a secondary attraction. Primary attraction is initial sexual attraction formed based on physical traits. This means you're sexually attracted to someone because you find them physically appealing. Secondary attraction is sexual attraction formed based on an emotional bond and the individual's personality. While demisexuals might find someone objectively attractive, often sexual attraction is not primarily formed. We often form sexual attraction on a secondary basis, after we have emotionally connected with the person. For more information on this, visit this cool little site.

3. Demisexuals do not automatically find sex repulsive.

Often, any disinterest in having sex just for sex is socially treated as a disgust toward sex. This just isn't accurate for many demisexuals. In fact, we have both primary and secondary sexual desire. This means that when we desire sex, it can be for emotional and physical satisfaction and also to conceive children. Demisexuals usually develop sexual desire under specific circumstances, mainly through a strong connection or emotional bond.

4. Sexual attraction can be separate from romantic attraction.

This also applies to understanding asexuality. It is important in trying to negotiate asexuality and demisexuality within a society fixated on sex. Many think that individuals under the asexual umbrella do not ever feel attracted to any human being on any level. This could be true for some people, but it's important to remember that it is rare to be 100 percent any sexual identity, asexuality and demisexuality included. Asexuals and demisexuals can certainly have crushes and be romantically attracted to others, even love someone romantically. They can want to date and, sometimes, have sex. It is simply that their sexual attraction functions differently and independently from romantic attraction. An asexual or demisexual might be perfectly happy dating for a long time, or indefinitely, without sex. To that end, that means someone can be both demisexual and demiromantic, simply demisexual, simply demiromantic, or other combinations of sexual and romantic identities.

5. This is not a choice.

Though many understand that identities like gay and lesbian are not conscious choices, sometimes this is forgotten when applied to demisexuality. Just because we might reserve sexual activity for people we know on a deep level and emotionally connect with, it does not mean we are overly-religious, arrogant or trying to make anyone feel ashamed about being more willing to have sex. It also does not mean we are contradicting feminist ideals and placing "too much" value in virginity. I simply lack sexual attraction to someone I do not emotionally connect with, and there is no motivation or benefit for me to engage in sexual activity without this bond. I will feel nothing. It does not make me a better or worse person than you. This is just how I feel. I can't help it.

6. We are not unhappy with life.

More specifically, our sexuality does not make us inherently unhappy with life and the world. Demisexuals aren't freaks moping in the corner just because they're not having sex. Demisexuals often find satisfaction in good conversation and company, hobbies and other areas of life. We don't need sex. We don't feel a hole in our souls or feel like we're missing something. It's with outside factors that we might feel that way. Sometimes, this society can pressure demisexuals into believing they are missing out on something or should want/be having sex because it's what is "normal" or expected. This can be severely damaging to self-esteem and confidence. It alienates individuals from their peers and causes a lot of frustration and pain.

7. We are not "weird."

Well, we may be weird. But not simply because we are demisexual, and not in the hurtful way this comment is meant. Though I may use what's "normal" to explain how demisexuals differ from others on the sexual scale, this is no way means we are "abnormal" or "weird." Calling demisexuals, asexuals or others on the asexual scale "weird" is to write them off as "other" and not able to be understood. Simple research into demisexuality and reading explanations written by someone part of that identity (like this article!) can lead to understanding if the person is willing enough. It is unproductive to simply give up and call us "weird." Just because you might not get it, that does not mean there is something wrong with that person. Perhaps try asking about what you don't comprehend, as long as the individual wants to be asked and it is a respectful question.

8. Don't blindly say you understand.

Going off of the above point, it's also problematic to just say you understand without really absorbing what demisexuality means, particularly in a romantic context. Agreeing to date someone who's demisexual and claiming to be OK with it without knowing what it actually entails can be damaging for everyone involved. Specifically, the demisexual individual can begin to believe they are accepted when in fact, the other person is not OK with not having sex until the demisexual has established a strong emotional bond—or not OK with the fact that the demisexual might need things to move slowly. This can lead to messy breakups and hurt feelings. It's best to look into demisexuality and what it can mean to date a demisexual and then decide whether you would like to pursue the person. Listening is imperative.

9. Patience is a virtue.

Personally, and possibly for other demisexuals, my emotions regarding sexual activity, attraction and dating are fragile and slower to develop. This can make some demisexuals feel as though they will never find someone to be with because our sexuality often requires getting to know the person really well before knowing if we want to have sex. With the nature of most modern relationships, a lot of people are not willing to wait around to see if someone is attracted to them sexually or even romantically. They want answers quickly. And that's understandable, but a reason why demisexuals and asexuals might feel isolated from other people in respect to romantic relationships and sex. My feelings, for example, are easily ruined if a relationship escalates too quickly. Many of us might need someone who is willing to be patient.

10. Sexualities don't usually function in absolutes.

Though there are certainly key indicators of a demisexuality identity, like a lack of primary attraction, not all demisexuals are the same. Not all behave or regard sex and relationships in the ways I have outlined in this list. There is difference from demisexual to demisexual, and same goes for others on the asexual scale. Asexuals are not amoebas or plants, they are humans, and they can be romantically and sexually attracted to people. It just might be extremely rare. Even if they don't experience those attractions, it is not helpful to equate them to non-human entities. Humans aren't defined as human only because of an existence of sexual and romantic attraction. Demisexuals are not weirdos or celibate, and they can develop sexual and romantic attraction at different rates or different frequencies. What qualifies as a "strong emotional bond" varies person to person. People can have instances where they act outside of their sexual identity or have "exceptions." Behavior does not define sexuality, and sexual identities do not restrict the person to a certain set of behaviors. It's all about what label the person feels most comfortable using. It should never be about how "well" they perform the textbook definition of their sexuality.

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6 Things You Hear When You Move To America From Another Country As A POC

My mom is from the Philippines, I'm from Michigan.

I grew up the same as everyone else I’d say. I spent my evenings at the park playing with the neighborhood kids, I went to kindergarten and ate a bunch of snacks, ran after the ice cream truck numerous times, and learned to count to 7. The only difference that seems to make a significant impact on how others see me is that I grew up in a different country and am also a different race. Is it really that big of a difference though?

I was raised in a military family, so we were constantly moving from base to base, state to state, and country to country. I was born In North Carolina, my sister was born in Alabama, but we were raised in Japan for the majority of our early years. My mother would take us on mini vacations to the Philippines to visit her family quite frequently as well. So over the years we were most definitely exposed to several traditions, cultures, and more. To this day we still celebrate these traditions and our lifestyle can be a tad bit different than the average American. However, are we so different from everyone else that it gives people the right to make assumptions based on my race? No. No one deserves the basic stereotypes and racial comments regardless of who they are or where they’re from.

When you get into the nitty gritty of things in finding the differences between someone raised in America and another country there’s not a lot. Sure, there’s a slight language barrier sometimes, but is that any different? Sometimes we have more traditions to celebrate and handle things slightly differently as well, but when it comes down to it, we don’t have too many differences between us. Hell, I grew up in Japan and the biggest change I noticed when I moved to Michigan wasn’t the people- but rather how many damn trees are here.

As if growing up in another country isn’t enough, I am also Filipino and African American. A lot of people cut pretty quick to the chase in making assumptions when they see you’re from another country. However, once they see you’re a different race that’s not white AND you grew up somewhere else it’s basically a whole new ball park that’s full of questions and slightly offensive remarks. These assumptions are generally stereotypical and sometimes can come off as borderline racist (depending on how you phrase it). If you were born/raised in another country and found yourself moving to the country we know as the land of the “free”, or if you’re an ethnicity that’s not the “American Norm”, then you have definitely heard some of these questions/statements at least once or twice in your lifetime.

1. Where were you born? No, like where are you from? …where are you really from?

Well I spent the last 13 years here in Michigan, but I was born in North Carolina. But if you really wanted to know, yes, I’m half Filipino. Yes, I’ve lived there. Happy?

Almost everyone, regardless of their race, gets that question handed to them and it’s annoying enough to make your eyes roll out your skull.

2. What are you?

Human? What kind of question is that? Do I look like a breed of a dog or a vegetable to you? Just ask me what my race is, at this point I’m used to hearing that question so it wouldn’t bother me. Flat out asking what am I is a little more offensive than anything.

3. Basic racial remarks.

“Do you see as much as I do with your eyes that squinty?”

“Does your mom cook orange chicken really well?”

“Why are you so tall if you’re Asian, aren’t they usually shorter? Oh, that’s right, you’re also half black! That’s why you’re 5’4” instead of 5’0”!”

“You don’t have a stutter, that’s just your accent coming back to you I bet.”

Don’t even get me started on how many people have pulled their eyes back and said “ching chong ching,” to me and made fun of me with a fake Chinese accent. I’m not even Chinese.

4. Do you know how to speak their language? Can you say a sentence?

I know just as much tagalog as you know Spanish. All swear words and how they are. No, I will not say them either.

5. Common stereotypes.

These kinds of people just jump to conclusions and base their knowledge off television shows or the internet. There’s really no filter on them either, so they kind of just fire it at you.

“I bet you can do math really well, but watch out for her on the roads! She’s probably an awful driver!” Add the fact that I’m a woman on there too, that stereotype never ends.

No, I can’t do karate. No, I can’t do jiu-jitsu. I can barely touch my toes, let alone throw a solid kick.

6. How do you pronounce your name?

There are two types of people that ask this question: ones who say it in the most Americanized way possible, and then those who try to add an unnecessary obvious accent to it. Either they find new syllables and vowels in your name that you never saw, or it’s a giant slaughter altogether. Regardless, at least they asked right? They’re still going to pronounce your name wrong…but they still asked.

As much as I can go on this topic forever, the point I’m trying to get to is to please watch what you say. POC shouldn’t be used to hearing remarks like these. The things listed here are directed mainly towards the Eurasia side, this doesn’t cover what our buddies from other countries and continents endure. We are all human in every way possible. We may have different traditions and cultures, but we do not barge into your life and ask you irrelevant questions. If anything ask us in depth questions, not the simple black and white ones.

Cover Image Credit: Max Pixel

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I'm Bi And Dating Straight For The First Time Ever

And sometimes it feels weird. In a good way, though.

There’s a time in almost every bisexual’s life when the implications of actually being bi slam against them.

It’s usually the moment when you have to make two profiles on a dating app because it only lets you pick one gender. Or, typically if you’re a woman, all the worst threesome-seeking couples within the tristate area glom onto you like a starved barnacle on a 15th-century Spanish galleon.

For me, it was a Lyft ride. I was on my way home from a Tinder date.

The driver was friendly enough. She was middle-aged and built of soft, sweeping curves. Her car smelled like peppermint and a hand-sewn and very pink Christmas sweater clung to her shoulders. If she wasn’t a grandmother yet, she was already well-prepared for it.

Naturally, we chatted. She asked me what I had been up to. “Just got back from a date.”

“Oh, what was she like?”

I fired back the basics: she was a biochemistry major at Oregon State University, we had a lot in common, had a great time.

There were things I didn’t share: we’d hit it off so well that we’d missed out on plans to see the new Blade Runner and I’d ended up staying the night. That my date had soft, brown eyes with an understating gravity, strong enough that you barely realized she was wearing glasses. But the basic point was relayed.

It hit me as we pulled up to my place. Not once, in describing the idea that I had had a date, did I have to disguise the pronoun of my date to hide her gender.

Later, when I had a second date with Eve, and when we eventually decided to make things official and date for good, the culture shock echoed further: I was in my first-ever straight relationship.

Eve wasn’t the first woman I’d ever dated. However, she was the first woman I’d dated since transitioning to male.

My first relationship started in the 8th grade. I was out as bisexual to a handful of friends and relatives. She was an out-and-proud lesbian. We would stay together for three years, eventually ending up long distance after my family packed up and moved across the country.

Like the best of lesbians, she’d introduced me to the finer points of vegetarian cuisine and we’d write shitty fiction together, my fiction considerably shittier than hers. We’d even stayed friends, for a time, after an amicable breakup.

The entire relationship was spent in various closets. We held hands in the dark. I didn’t even tell my parents until we’d been together for at least two years. We’d ignore the sneers we’d get in public. I handily hid my gender issues.

Not long after I turned eighteen, I stopped hiding the gender issues and began working towards manhood. I’d like to think I did okay for a former girl scout. Along with that? I started dating (and hooking up with) other men.

Like my ex-girlfriend, my ex-boyfriend and I got used to keeping a couple inches away from each other while walking in public, especially in the shadier parts of town. I got used to calling him my “partner” just so I wouldn’t have to out myself as gay/bi to classmates or colleagues.

When I came to realize I would be a guy dating a girl, some small part of me finds I’m still amazed at the novelty of it. Another part of me feels a little guilty. And I feel that weird guilt, especially as I “pass” more and more as a male. I blend in, when I was used to sticking out. Sometimes it’s comforting. Other times I feel like a traitor selling out the gay agenda.

But that’s the thing about being bi. We date who we date. We love who we love. And hoping one of these days, it’ll only be love that matters.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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